The suspension of cattle imports from South Africa has been lifted with immediate effect following Namibia’s attainment of negligible risk status for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.
Namibia became the first African country to be recognised as having an insignificant risk for mad cow disease at the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) 84th General Session held in May.
However, a cattle farmer pointed out that the lifting of the ban is largely academic since not a single animal is brought in Namibia for slaughter. Only breeding animals are imported and only by stud breeders. Nowadays, nobody brings in a bull any more, semen is brought in special containers and then the vet inseminates the cows.
The agriculture ministry said Mad Cow Disease is a fatal neurodegenerative disease (encephalopathy) in cattle that causes a spongy degeneration of the brain and spinal cord. The disease may be most easily transmitted to humans by eating food contaminated with the brain, spinal cord or digestive tract of infected carcasses.
In a media statement issued earlier this week, acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry(MAWF), Sophia Kasheeta said new import permits to facilitate imports of live cattle from South Africa have been developed after consultation with the veterinary authorities of that country.
“This is to notify, importers, farming community and members of the public that the previously imposed suspension of cattle imports from South Africa following Namibia’s attainment of negligible risk status for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE} commonly known as “Mad Cow Disease” is hereby lifted with immediate effect,” she said.
When MAWF made the announcement about Namibia’s status earlier this month, Kasheeta said it should motivate business communities to pursue higher value markets for livestock and livestock products, and most importantly, for the farming community to take all reasonable efforts to protect the country’s highly acclaimed livestock sector.
Furthermore, importers have been advised to contact the Veterinary Permits Office to apply for import permits.